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Trip List by out_of_VA

4 days in Williamsburg, VA with kids

10 Apr 2007  Spring break trip with a 12year old boy, 10 year old and 9 year old girls
4.0 of 5 bubbles based on 20 votes

4 day family itinerary

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Williamsburg
  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing
  • Appeals to: Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Williamsburg
    Williamsburg, Virginia

    This city has a lot to offer, but it's innundated with tourists. The trick is to enjoy the attractions and not get caught at some all you can eat buffet behind a bickering family out of some cheesy "Vacation" movie - and there were plenty of them.....

    One other thing: buy tickets to additional attractions and make reservations whenever you can --- it's very crowded. The only place we didn't need reservations was the Mexican place.

  • 2. Four Points by Sheraton Williamsburg Historic District
    Williamsburg Hotel Historic District, Williamsburg, Virginia

    This hotel got a lot of grief in the Tripadvisor reviews. It wasn't that bad. In fact it was pretty good for our purposes. We had a clean room with a king bed. Our girls had a queen bed and their own bath. My son had a pullout couch. Each room had its own TV and there was a small kitchen with a table and chairs. Perfect for breakfast and evening drinks/snacks. The suites are in a separate building. There is a pool and wifi and a fitness center in the main building. The bathrooms were o.k. - a little moldy around the corners, not the greatest towels, etc. But this was NOT roughing it. The management was very nice. We tried to get a pay per view movie and I guess the bandwidth was exceeded, because we couldn't get access to the system. Housekeeping was very responsive to our requests. Overall, it worked for us. I should note, however, that our stay was free (we stayed on hotel points), so we are bound to be more forgiving.

    We had read some pretty nasty reviews of this place, and it's really fine - some people are too picky :-)

  • 3. Second Street

    Nice bistro slightly off the beaten path - all the "touristy" restaurants are on Richmond Road, along with all the motels. Second Street is off Page St., across a bridge, right near 60w (you'll need a map for the exact location). Good bistro fare at a reasonable price with nice service. I had the shriimp and sausage with romano grits cakes. They also have good burgers, etc.

  • 4. Jamestown Settlement
    Jamestown Settlement, Williamsburg, Virginia

    We enjoyed this. It's basically the same concept as Colonial Williamsburg, but on a smaller scale. It's also 1607 here, not 1774. There is a good intro film to set the stage and then a museum exhibit, but get out and do the guided walk around to the three areas - the settlers fort, the Indian village and the three ship reproductions. Everything here is a reproduction, not on the original site - the fort is over at "historic Jamestown," the ships don't exist anymore and the Indian villages were a few miles away. Once you do the guided walk you can go back to the different areas and see some demonstrations - farming, boat building, baking, etc. And there are the museum galleries. You can make a day of it, or, as we did, head over for historic Jamestown later in the afternoon. We arrived at 9 and left at 2ish, and had a decent lunch in the cafe. The drive out is beautiful, through wetlands - you can see why this was a nice, protected area in which to launch a settlement. If you don't want to eat at the cafe, bring a picnic, because there's nothing else around.

  • 5. Historic Jamestown
    Historic Jamestowne, Williamsburg, Virginia

    This was very interesting, particularly if you have an interest in the excavation and archaeology of the site. Right now they are excavating actual settlers, so you might want to prepare the kids for seeing real human bones. The fort has only been excavated in the last 7 years or so, so there's a lot new if you've been here before. They also have a costumed guide to set the stage. It's slightly repetitive of the Jamestown Settlement material, but interesting nonetheless. I should repeat here that my kids are 12, 10 and 9, and they found all of the above and this site very interesting. There is also an archaology museum where they have identified one of the ship's captain's remains, and they explain how they did that. Fascinating ( a little gross though). There's also plenty of day to day items, money, building foundations, etc.

    All of these attractions, I should note, are interesting because they have enormous historical significance, they show the clashing and coming together of 3 cultures - English, Native American and African, AND they also show you the mundane tasks of day to day living.

  • 6. King's Arms Tavern
    King's Arms Tavern Dining-Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

    One of 4 "historical" taverns in Colonial Williamsburg. You can go early and catch one of the evening programs or go late after enjoying down time at your hotel pool. It's worth going once. Waiters dress in period costume, people play colonial music, candles provide the lighting. The fare is a combination of colonial and modern and it's pretty good. We went late because it was cold and the evening programs were all sold out anyway, except for the privately run ghost tours, but it was snowing (in April)

    We didn't have a reservation but they managed to slip us in. This was at 9:15 however....

  • 7. Busch Gardens
    Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

    Not my favorite, but the older kids LOVED It. For me, there were a bunch of scary roller coasters with long lines and a few rides my 9 year old and I were actually up for. The tamer two coasters are the Big Bad Wolf and the Loch Ness Monster, though the Monster still had a loop that I wouldn't do. There seem to be more gift shops than rides. There's a new coaster opening in May that's even MORE scary (90 degree drop - Yikes!).

    For food - avoid "Italy." Eat at the German "Festhaus" or the Canadian (New France) "Trappers Smokehouse."

    Also, be aware that to get in you have to do everything but give blood. They take your name, address, phone number, birthdate AND they scan your finger when you go in. I'm no privacy nut, but this was too much for me. Fortunately my finger didn't scan for some reason, and they let me in anyway. When I asked, they said this wasn't a fingerprint, they were just scanning the lines on my finger --- huh?

  • 8. South of the Border Mexican Restaurant
    South of The Border Mexican, Williamsburg, Virginia

    LOVED this neighborhood place. The owner seeme to know everyone who came in. The food was very good and reasonably priced (I had crab enchiladas - very well done). It was also more "local" than tourist - seemed to be a hit with the college students too. It's a little further down Second Street - amidst banks and car dealerships. Would definitely go there again, and it was a break from the other relatively expensive meals we were eating (we were splurging on meals because the hotel was free).

  • 9. Colonial Williamsburg
    Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

    It is worth it to go through the Visitor's Center and see the 35 minute film - puts everything in context. The film was made in 1957, but it still works, and one of the actors was the guy who says "Book 'em Danno" in Hawaii 5-0.

    "Williamsburg this Week " will tell you which exhibits are open when - most are open all day, but we missed a few. Also some things are timed and some are not. If you want to do any evening programs buy them right away - everything we wanted to do was sold out, and anyway it was freezing cold.

    We toured the Governor's Palace and the Capitol - both very interesting from a historical point of view. One thing we learned - the tour guides are not allowed to shush loud children, but guests have no such restriction. We had a very loud baby on our tour of the Capitol.

    Every day from 2:30-4:30 there is an outdoor play, called the "Revolutionary City," which is a series of scenes acted out on the streets toward the East End (near the Capitol). You don't have to stay for all of them, but some of it is interesting, and they run a different series of scenes on alternating days. In between scenes you can interact with the characters and ask questions (I asked one of the slaves which side he'd be on, for example...).

    The website for Colonial Williamsburg is very informative and worth going through.

    There is a virtual tour, explanations of the programs, more explanation of the "Revolutionary City" concept, restaurants, etc.

    My kids also really enjoyed going through the shops. The folks working there were really informative about the day to day life and work during the colonial period. I think we went to the following: silversmith, millinary, wigmaker, brickmaker, blacksmith, cabinetmaker, book bindery, gunsmith, saddlemaker, post office, grocer and apothecary. Some of the "shops" were glorified giftshops (post office, one side of the silversmith and the grocer, I think). There are a LOT of gift shops. But when you get to one where the tradesman is in character and knowledgeable, which is most of the time, it's really cool and you can ask them anything.

    What we didn't do but wished we had: a carriage ride, a ghost tour, seen more shops, learned about the farming and the animals.

    Basically you are in two time periods - 1607 til about 1630 for Jamestown and the 1770's for Williamsburg - both very critical periods and they really give you the context for what else was going on at the time and how these two areas were linchpins for major social change.

  • 10. Colonial Williamsburg website

    More information and resources, virtual tour - worth a visit in planning your trip.

  • 11. Seasons Restaurant
    Seasons Restaurant, Williamsburg, Virginia

    Good sit-down restaurant - attached to a pizza and sub place. On Henry street one block off Duke of Gloucester. Picnicking and outdoor dining would be preferable, but there was that weather thing.....we liked this restaurant and would go again. (liked the pizza place too)

  • 12. Aromas
    Aromas Specialty Coffees & Cafe, Williamsburg, Virginia

    Cafe and bakery that seems to cater more to the college crowd. They had a nice menu too, and live music. Had one of those bickering families in front of us in line....good coffee made it worth it. I'd go back to try the food.

  • 13. Blue Talon Bistro
    Blue Talon Bistro, Williamsburg, Virginia

    Nice French bistro. Kids portions are available of any dish. I really like when restaurants do that. My food came out cold and they quickly heated it up for us.